Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall’Igna admits that contract negotiations with lead rider Andrea Dovizioso are 'not easy', but expects a decision on the Italian's future by their home round at Mugello on June 1-3.

It would be a major shock if Ducati did not reach a new agreement with their most successful rider since Casey Stoner.

But the Italian currently earns a fraction of the money being paid to team-mate Jorge Lorenzo and, while win bonuses filled some of the gap, a significant 'adjustment' in Dovizioso's basic pay will be needed for 2019.

It is presumably the size of that increase which is prolonging negotiations, while serious talks with Lorenzo are yet to begin.

"At the moment our focus is to find an agreement with Dovizioso. After that, we will try to start the negotiations with our other riders," said Dall’Igna, speaking at the Imola World Superbike round.

"I think that we have to fix this problem as soon as possible, but it's not an easy negotiation and it takes time. I think that Mugello, for sure, we will tell yes or not."

Those words echoed the comments of Pramac's Danilo Petrucci, when quizzed on his future at Jerez: "We are speaking [with Ducati]. Now, from what I understand, they are in trouble with Dovi and their first target is to close the deal with him. From what I understand it is quite difficult."

Andrea Dovizioso ests 2018 Ducati parts

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After the nightmare Pedrosa-Lorenzo-Dovizioso collision in Jerez, Dovizioso - last year's title runner-up and then winner of round one in Qatar - has slipped from first to fifth in the championship, 24 points from Marc Marquez.

But triple world champion Lorenzo is a nightmare 20th in the standings, having also suffered a non-score due to brake failure in Qatar.

"I'm not happy, Lorenzo is not happy, the Ducatisti are not happy... This is the reality and so we have to try to improve the performance of Lorenzo with the Ducati, this is for sure one of our targets," Dall’Igna said.

As part of their ongoing efforts to revive Lorenzo's results, the Spaniard tested a 'new' frame at Mugello last week. But while the chassis was new for the #99, it wasn't a brand-new design…

"Honestly, it's not a real new chassis because this was the chassis that Dovizioso used from the beginning of the season," Dall’Igna explained. "We have the possibility to try this new chassis with Dovizioso during the winter test and so we started from the first race with this chassis.

"The differences between the two are not huge, so we took the decision not to test this chassis with Lorenzo before he will be in position to evaluate properly the chassis. After Jerez I think he is in a position to make this job and so we tried this new chassis, also with him. But it's not something completely different.

"We have something [more] in mind and we will test something new with Michele [Pirro] in the next month and after that we will see depending on the results."

Asked to compare Lorenzo's difficulties since leaving Yamaha with Valentino Rossi's earlier struggles and the much smoother transition from Honda by Jack Miller and Tito Rabat, Dall’Igna replied:

"Lorenzo sometimes was in a position to try to win races. In Malaysia, also in Jerez, he was quite fast. So I'm not happy about the results, but I'm happy sometimes about how fast he is with our bike.

"So it's the reality that changing from Honda to Ducati and vice versa is easier than from Yamaha to Honda or Ducati and vice versa. But the concept of the bike, I think, is completely different so the riding style has to be completely different and so it's not easy."

Lorenzo is not the only Desmosedici rider enduring a difficult start to the season, with Aspar's Alvaro Bautista suffering a major downturn compared to last year's heroics.

"I was really happy about him last year. He did really great races, but this year for sure he is slower than I expected. I have to find something to help him come back at last year's results."

Dall’Igna also confirmed Crash.net's earlier report that both the Angel Nieto and Aspar teams are set to stay on Ducati machinery for 2019.

"We are quite close to signing an agreement with both these teams. I'm quite positive about the possibility of closing the agreement in the next two races."

One rider that is unlikely to join the Ducati MotoGP ranks in 2019 is their factory World Superbike star Chaz Davies.

"We didn’t speak with about that," Dall’Igna said.

Dovizioso took his first victory of last season at Mugello. He went on to win six races and finish title runner-up Marquez.

Click Here to see the riders already confirmed for the 2019 MotoGP season...



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